The Drake vs Kendrick Lamar Front of the 20-v-1 is Pure Storytelling.

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( It’s been just about a week since Future and Metro Boomin’s follow-up to We Don’t Trust You—We Still Don’t Trust You—dropped. The two albums—released less than a month between each other—saw noticeable differences in approach between the two while featuring a few talents who had a bone to pick with fellow hip-hop superstar and apparently former Future collaborator Drake.

The Drake vs Kendrick Lamar Front of the 20-v-1 is Pure Storytelling.

As expected, there were some heated volleys shot in Drizzy’s direction and it got the internet involved as far as memeing, anticipating reactions and a response, and speculating on the reasons for targeting Drake. Now, that last part has seen many breakdown the possible reasons based on previous news, rumors, and songs.

Without dwelling on that part—because it ties into my observation of the beef itself—you’ll see everything from it’s about women to Drake’s ties to an investor that has fingers in multiple pots in the industry to the whole “Big 3 of Hip-Hop” thing. I’d say each has some validity depending on the slighted artist.

The thing is that Drake is the target of their ire, everyone has a reason, and several banded together on Future’s most recent projects to voice air their grievances whether it’s bickering over a placement in the top three of hip-hop, women, or jealousy.

My interest in the beef isn’t purely on who had the best bars and disses—that drives this feud—it’s the callbacks to previous lyrical run-ins and interviews and the progression of the responses. It’s all about the story and the diss tracks drive the story but everything surrounding the disses are the sizzle on this steak.

Hip-Hop Beefs Are Theatric Now

While there are several opponents for Drake, the Toronto-based superstar’s main target at the moment is fellow top three inhabitant Kendrick Lamar. This is more of a pride battle and that heightens it significantly to me. Plus, these are two artists who have made tremendous impact on the industry, modern hip-hop and have amassed numerous awards and accolades.

Now, depending on your side/preference and how you view modern hip-hop, you might say the impact and influence is for the worse but two things are important to note: things change and that includes media. The youth determine what’s hot, trends make money, and the stuff that worked in the past isn’t going to move records today. Each generation wants something that is theirs, something that speaks to them, and something new.

Then you get a period when that style dominates, new artists come in with their spin on it—or playing from the popular playbook of the time, and the old heads hang on to the stuff from their teens and 20s and often end up complaining about the current stuff. It’s the same as any decade.

The other thing is that this is an industry and you need to make money. Just like ratings on TV, sales matter in music and film.

This would become a point of Drake’s disses targeted towards Future, Rick Ross, The Weeknd, and Kendrick Lamar in the “Push Ups” and his role in getting artists number one hits as a featured artist or on joint projects. Star power is the rocket fuel to propel songs to hit status rapidly and keep it there for a while. Getting the rub from a more popular artist goes a long way even after the project is done and starts to decline down the charts. It also factors into relevancy, an underlying aspect of Drake’s diss towards Rick Ross.

While we got a meme-worthy diss towards Metro Boomin’, the main event is a generational battle between Drake and Kendrick Lamar which was more targeted in “Taylor Made”. I enjoyed “Push Ups” more because of tempo and the lyrical aggression but “Taylor Made” is the thinking person’s diss. You’ve probably heard “Drake is playing chess not checkers here” and that’s true of this diss track.

This isn’t a purely a bomb with outing someone’s personal business and make threats diss. That’s the archaic approach that lacks layered storytelling when you look at the entire timeline. The hostilities between Drizzy and Kung Fu Kenny go back to the 2013 Big Sean track “Control” which featured Kendrick Lamar lining up some of the notable names at the time and dissing them in his verse.

This opening volley saw Kendrick declare that he was going to be the rapper that matters and that his contemporaries would be forgotten by their own diehard fans. While casual listeners and fans come and go, artists will have their diehard, hardcore fans throughout their careers and even into their decline. So, that was a spicy feat Kendrick put out there.

For perspective into that time period, Kendrick Lamar was coming off 2012’s acclaimed good kid, M.A.A.D which debuted at number two in the charts. The year that “Control” was released, Drake’s third album Nothing Was the Same dropped, entering the charts at number one and going on to achieve more commercial success.

It’s said that Drake didn’t reply to Kendrick’s diss in his album but the situation had been boiling for over a decade. It was a mixture of business and personal as they both continued to make music and focus on building and further solidifying their names and careers.

Drake’s “Taylor Made” Ramped the Feud Up

Fast forward to “First Person Shooter” from Drake’s 2023 release For All the Dogs. Featuring another big three inhabitant and Kendrick rival J. Cole, the song seemed to strike a nerve and saw KDot target them on “Like That” from Future’s We Don’t Trust You album and declaring himself number one and the only rapper on any supposed big three list.

J. Cole had a retort but later apologized and scrapped it after it has been up for a smattering of days but Drake had apparently been anticipating this showdown for years—he just needed to deal with the rest before getting to Kendrick.

This brings us to “Taylor Made” which feature an AI Tupac and an AI Snoop Dogg. There has been poo-pooing about using AI versions of two music legends and two West Coast legends but there was strategy here as Kendrick was given the nod from Snoop and said Tupac came to him in a dream in the past. Drake rapped the AI Tupac and Snoop’s verses and pleaded with Kendrick to do something and giving him ammo—in third person as the AI versions— before returning to first person at the end.

Basically, he started by dissing himself and toying with K. Dot’s pride in being a West Coast rapper. While it’s not what ammo Kendrick Lamar uses but how he uses it at the end, Drake potentially spoils Kendrick’s possible response by going into what he’ll likely touch on.

That element and this approach brought me in more than a back-and-forth slobber knocker would’ve. There’s layers in the diss lyrically as it hits both business-wise and personally but also from the overall project itself.

What are your thoughts on this beef at the moment? Let us know in the comments.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.